by ERIC ZUESSE
The way it works was well displayed, May 25th, on the opinion page of America’s largest-circulation newspaper, USA Today. Each of the three articles there presumed that the US Government is fighting for the public’s interests, and that the countries it invades or threatens to invade are evil. It is all, and always, propaganda for the US military, which is the reason why the US military is the most-respected institution in the United States, despite being the most wasteful and the most corrupt of all federal Departments.
The US public don’t think of the military as being driven by the military corporations — Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, etc. — each corporation deriving that multi-billion-dollar profit annually from selling weapons to the US and to its allied governments, but the public are indoctrinated constantly to think of the US military instead in an admiring way, as if it were being led by and represented the US troops who are operating those weapons to kill foreigners in countries that actually never had invaded nor threatened to invade America, and those troops are America’s presumed heroes, when Americans rate the military as America’s best institution.
But this is no longer World War II — it’s a very different time and country — when the US was, at least to a substantial extent, a democracy, and it helped the Soviet and British Governments to defeat the fascist dictatorships, which wanted to become the capitalist global empire that the US aristocracy now wants to be. America, now, is fascist — the country that has invaded Vietnam and Iraq and Libya and Syria and Yemen, and that perpetrated coups in Iran and Indonesia and Chile and Ukraine, and many other countries, though none of those countries had ever invaded or threatened to invade America. Sheer aggression has become America’s bad habit.
Continual wars are needed by Lockheed Martin and the other such government contractors; and, so, ‘enemy’ lands must be targeted by those weapons and those troops, to kill millions of people there, and to destroy the infrastructure that provides the residents there sustenance. Otherwise, why would these weapons even be bought (with taxpayers’ money), at all? America’s international corporations profit from it, but America’s taxpayers pay the immense (over trillion-dollar annual) tab for it.
The market for these weapons cannot continually expand — meet corporate executives’ constant and (in the military field) cancerous growth-addiction — unless new targets for the public to fear and hate (Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, Venezuela, etc.) can be developed and intensified in its public’s deceived mind. America’s ‘news’ media perform that function, for corporate America, to open up extraction-lands (for oil, metals, etc.), and to establish new military anchors there (such as the US now is doing, for example, in Syria’s oil-producing region). This isn’t only for corporations such as Lockheed Martin, which manufacture those weapons, but it is also for corporations such as ExxonMobil, which are extractive industries and require extractions from countries all over the world, not merely within America.
Here, then, is how this mass-indoctrination is done, to “manufacture the public’s consent” for continual invasion-and-occupation:
The lead opinion-piece In the May 25th USA Today was the editorial, “Our View: Donald Trump, deal-breaker in chief”, and it established the tone and theme for the entire page, by mixing together, and confusing readers to apply the same standards to, commercial foreign polices such as tariffs, and military foreign policies such as denuclearizing North Korea (so as ultimately to conquer that nation). Consequently, USA Today’s editorial about Trump’s cancellation of his summit with Kim Jong-un argued: “The list of broken or endangered agreements keeps growing: The Paris climate accord. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.” Those multi-national agreements were presented in terms of Democratic-versus-Republican-Party domestic political conflict, as being the sitting Republican US President’s undoing of what the previous Democratic Party President (Obama) had done, and thus repositioned the issue subtly out of either the commercial or the military international field, into the American aristocracy’s domestic squabbles. Here, this major US ‘news’-medium was taking sides in the US aristocracy’s partisan split, and favoring the Democratic Party side of the US aristocracy, against the Republican Party side of the US aristocracy. But what does this intra-aristocratic domestic squabble have to do with US relations with North Korea — the supposed topic here?
America’s aristocracy are united supporting conquest. However, there are differences of opinion about how to go about doing it. Then, the editorial said: “In other words, Trump’s pretty good at deal-breaking. It’s deal-making where he stumbles: Even as he pulled out of an agreement preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb, Trump pushed for an even more ironclad deal stripping North Korea of the same weapons. As enticements, he promised Kim major US investments (‘His country will be rich’) and safety and security (‘He will be happy’) — strange offerings for a dictator who operates one of the world’s last, brutal gulag systems, imprisoning tens of thousands.” This editorial took a clearly partisan pro-US-regime, anti-North Korean regime, PR stance, without so much as just mentioning that, even according to pro-US estimates, North Korea’s percentage of population that are in prison is no higher than is America’s percentage who are in prison. So, “one of the world’s last, brutal gulag systems” isn’t clearly a worse one in that regard, than is the US Government itself. All the propaganda (such as this in USA Today) is pure uninformative and misleading indoctrination (PR), instead of being informative and trustworthy journalism. This ‘news’paper sides with America’s aristocracy against North Korea’s aristocracy, and with the Democratic Party faction of the US aristocracy against the Republican Party faction of the US aristocracy; but, this editorial provides no evidence for the particular prejudices it promotes. And it pretends to be about Trump’s cancellation of that summit.
Next on the editorial page was “Donald Trump is onto something” (or, on the printed page, “Opposing view: ‘Today’s failure might be tomorrow’s success’”), in which the editors’ selected Republican Party propagandist, Kenneth Rapoza of Forbes, argued “Trump brought tariffs back to life. … Trump is trying to manage trade outcomes to the benefit of US citizens.” How did Trump’s tariffs-policy relate to the proposed summit between him and Kim Jong-un? Obviously, the editors of USA Today didn’t really care about that. This is how much they insult the intelligence of their readership (if not of themselves). The only difference between the pro and the contra here was the difference between the Democratic and the Republican Parties.
Finally, the third article was “My hope for this Memorial Day”, authored by PBS documentary film-maker Michael Epstein. He opened “The night before I left for Iraq, I put my two young daughters to bed.” Then, after more irrelevancy, he noted that, “I did not go to Iraq as a Marine or a soldier. I went as a filmmaker. Still, as I lay next to my youngest daughter, it struck me that if something were to happen to me in Iraq, …” Storytelling, like that, engages readers at the surface-level, and presses the buttons of readers’ propaganda vulnerabilities, for the desired atmosphere — here, in order for this non-soldier writer to pretend he understands the problems that America’s troops face. But then he incoherently proceeds to saying, in no relevant context, that he wants “to regularly remind myself of the burden carried by the many for the benefit of the few” — and he provides there no indication as to whom are “the many” and whom “the few.” One might try to guess that “the few” are the small percentage of Americans who are in the military, but that wouldn’t actually fit into the given context, because he’s supposedly discussing instead “the burden carried by the many for the benefit of the few.”
Is he talking there about the burden carried by the many taxpayers, for the benefit of the few troops? But, those troops aren’t actually the people who become enriched by America’s invasions and occupations — the owners of US military contractors such as United Technologies and Lockheed Martin, and of extractive industries, are those people, and they aren’t even peripherally mentioned. Then, he continues this nonsense by saying, “As a nation we excel at waging war, yet we are criminally indifferent to its costs and consequences.” But his article makes no mention of the “costs and consequences” to the residents in the lands where these troops invade and occupy, other peoples’ lands — and that’s the vast majority of the “costs and consequences” of these invasions and occupations. His article simply ignores the death and destruction that the troops amongst whom he was embedded, were perpetrating upon the residents; he doesn’t care about those victims, at all; they don’t figure among his concerns; he doesn’t mention them. He then refers to “Sebastian Junger, whose film about the Afghanistan War, ‘Restrepo,’ which he co-directed with Tim Hetherington, is the gold standard for documentary war reporting.” The film-maker of Restreppo was embedded with US troops in 2007 during their occupation of Afghanistan fighting against the Taliban, which (though Epstein makes no mention of the fact) the US and Sauds had created in 1979 in order to defeat the Soviets. US troops were actually fighting against a monster that the US and Sauds had jointly created, with assistance from yet another ally of the US aristocracy: Pakistan’s aristocracy.
Discordantly, another page in that same day’s issue of USA Today headlined “Afghanistan stabilization effort failing after 17 years of US work, watchdog report says”, and reported that:
“The US government’s 17-year effort to stabilize parts of war-torn Afghanistan has mostly failed, according to a report released Thursday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
The damning report finds that much of the $4.7 billion spent on programs to stabilize areas cleared of insurgents has been largely wasted — some of it siphoned off by corrupt officials, some of it paying for projects that did more harm than good. All told, the US government has appropriated about $126 billion to rebuild the country. … The huge flows of money into the impoverished country had the opposite effect of what was intended, the report says. … ‘By fueling corruption and the population’s disillusionment with its government, the coalition undermined the very government it sought to legitimize and drove support for the insurgency,’ the report says.”
So: who benefited from this death and destruction? Of course, the owners of America’s gigantic weapons-manufacturing firms did. And who suffered? Most of all, the residents in the invaded lands did, and do (though they weren’t even tokens considered in USA Today’s ‘journalism’).
There is nothing unique about USA Today, in any of this. For example, on the day before they ran those articles, the New York Times had bannered “North Korea Says It Will Give Trump ‘Time and Opportunity’ to Reconsider” and reported that “North Korea appeared to shift the blame to the United States” but provided no evidence that the blame belonged to anyone but America’s own President. How could North Korea have “shifted the blame” for Trump’s sudden termination of preparations for that summit? The NYT published that propaganda, treating its readers as fools who wouldn’t notice the ridiculousness of their “shift the blame” accusation against North Korea. Those readers pay subscription-fees to subject themselves to such propaganda as that.
On May 22nd, the independent investigative historian, Gareth Porter, had headlined “How Corporate Media Are Undermining a US-North Korea Nuclear Weapons Deal”, and he described the prior consistent record of US major ‘news’ media, as serving, in the North Korean matter, the function of propaganda agents for the owners of America’s giant weapons-making firms.